Will Australian Music Fans Stay Engaged With Digital Experiences Post-Pandemic? (Report)
As we enter the ‘new normal’, the music biz needs to question whether Australian music fans will remain engaged with digital experiences that kept lights on during the pandemic.
The new Digital Engagement Outlook report from Patternmakers noted a shift in online music, culture and arts as audiences begin living with COVID.
There was a 6% drop in participation, from 48% in November 2021, which marked the end of extended lockdowns in the eastern states, to 42% in March 2022 when this study was done.
These included watching livestreams (down from 21% to 16%), watching pre-recorded videos of events (down from 24% to 20%), creating content to share online (down from 4% to 3%), and seeing virtual exhibitions or gallery tours (down from 9% to 5%).
Those paying for online experiences declined from 38% to 34% during this period.
But the Digital Engagement Outlook found that seven in 10 will continue to engage, certainly in the near future, with continued apprehension in some quarters over attending physical events.
In fact, up to 34% had paid for an online experience in the fortnight before the study, and 44% of them spent $50 or more.
Some forms of payment have remained stable, including buying a single experience, subscribing to a platform to access content on-demand, and subscribing to a program or season.
The largest drop, from 15% to 12%, were those making donations.
“Among those paying for digital experiences, spending levels are consistent with previous phases—providing a steady outlook for marketing digital offerings this year,” the report stated.
“Despite the slight decline in online participation, a high proportion of audiences (73%) continue to see a role for digital in their lives, consistent with November 2021.”
Music and arts fans from states and territories with the most extended lockdown periods cultivated the biggest appetite for digital content.
Among NSW audiences, 45% were participating online (down from 55% last November), 43% in Victoria (down from 52%) and 45% in the ACT (down from 51%).
The levels were lower in SA (38%), WA (36%) and QLD (41%).
Not surprisingly, those from these places are most likely to be paying for online experiences.
The ACT was at 38%, and NSW and Victoria at 36%, QLD at 33%, SA at 32% and WA at 30%.
In the post-lockdown era, three groups were identified with varying engagement – something which will force new business models to emerge.
Each were different, and associations and brands need to take a different approach to deepen their engagement.
For “digital devotees” (26%), quality and premium offerings were seen as the key.
The “selective but supportive” group (47%), which see a small role for digital in their lives, are likely to respond well to hybrid models of digital offerings that can provide flexibility for those facing barriers related to “physical access, geographical location, lifestyle changes and time constraints.”
The third group, “tired of tech” (28%) see a very limited role of tech in their experiences or lifestyles, and 64% were most eager to share physical live experiences.
The report noted: “Australian audiences are still conscious of the risks and impact of contracting COVID–and 4 in 10 say they’ll only attend physical events when the risks are minimal.
“As conditions stabilise following the Omicron wave, the data suggests that a portion of the market may be unlikely to return to in-person events long-term, cementing challenges for pre-pandemic business models.
“There is a need to continue innovating with digital offers and targeting experiences and communication strategies at key segments.
“The findings also underscore the need to build sustainable practices around digital experiences, fit for the new era.”